The art of communication is one of the most important skills for anyone to master. Especially in business, being a masterful communicator will set you leagues apart from the competition. However, with the emphasis put on marketing and producing online content, it’s easy for business owners to feel pressure to just say something before honing their message. While there is some truth to the idea that something is better than nothing, the other side of the coin is learning how to not sacrifice quality at the cost of quantity.
At Propel, we’ve spent the last few years exploring what online communication done the right way looks like. The secret we’ve found? Underneath all the strategies and new social platforms, it’s actually pretty simple.
Here are four of our top online communication tips for business owners:
- Double check the details. It’s probably happened to you before: you hit “send” or “post” and right as you do, you notice with horror you exchanged “you’re” for “your” or forgot to double check you spelled the recipient’s name right. It’s a very human mistake, but it’s one that, if made often enough, begins to reflect poorly on your brand’s authenticity and authority. Before sending an email, before posting to social media, before sending the e-newsletter, take one last, slow read-through. Look out for common spelling and punctuation errors, and double check the accuracy of all dates, times, and links given. If grammar isn’t your thing, find a second pair of eyes to do it for you.
- Say it with a smile. It’s remarkable how to people can say the same exact words and communicate two completely different meanings merely by their tone and body language. Online, we have the danger of anonymity. People reading our words don’t have our facial expressions or voice to help them interpret our meaning; it’s therefore very important we work hard at making sure our online communication conveys kindness, courteousness, and friendliness.
- Keep it short and sweet. In our efforts to accurately communicate information, it’s very easy to get unnecessarily long-winded. No matter what you’re posting online, always stop and consider if you can convey the same message with fewer words. Your communication will be more powerful and more widely received. You can practically do this by keeping sentences short and uncomplicated, and by dividing big paragraphs into smaller ones. Even these simple visual tricks will help your audience pay attention better.
- Respond, don’t react. Whether intentional or not, it’s unfortunately very easy to find yourself angry at something someone said to you online. Because of the anonymity the internet offers, people are often far more brutal and mean on social media and email than they ever would dream of being in person. Even if a comment wasn’t meant to come across as rude, it’s just too easy for misunderstanding to happen online. When you find yourself in the position of feeling nettled by a Facebook comment or spiteful email, take a deep breath. Reacting will cause you to make decisions you’ll regret that won’t convey your professional attitude. Respond to people with humility and try to believe the best before you go in guns blazing with accusations.
Underneath it all, online communication really is that simple. No matter what application, the basic rules of manners apply: be kind, be polite, smile, be respectful, and address issues when you need to. Using the four tools we talked about in any area of online communication will help you be successful.